From the Hebrew name בִּנְיָמִין (Binyamin)
which means "son of the south" or "son of the right hand", from the roots בֵּן (ben)
meaning "son" and יָמִין (yamin)
meaning "right hand, south". Benjamin in the Old Testament
is the twelfth and youngest son of Jacob
and the founder of one of the southern tribes of the Hebrews. He was originally named בֶּן־אוֹנִי (Ben-'oni)
meaning "son of my sorrow" by his mother Rachel
, who died shortly after childbirth, but it was later changed by his father (see Genesis 35:18).
As an English name, Benjamin
came into general use after the Protestant Reformation
. A famous bearer was Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), an American statesman, inventor, scientist and philosopher.